Project Name: Supercritical Treatment Technology for Water Purification
Funding Opportunity: Solar Desalination  
SETO Subprogram: Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power
Location:  Grand Forks, ND
SETO Award Amount: $1,994,637
Awardee Cost Share:  $506,331
Principal Investigator: Dr. Michael D. Mann

This project will demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of an innovative, energy-efficient, and robust supercritical desalination technology to treat high salinity water. By using novel multifunctional additives, the Supercritical Water Extraction – Enhanced Targeted Recovery (SWEETR) technology could dramatically reduce the energy used in desalination and prevent corrosion on equipment surfaces. The SWEETR technology is designed to separate salt water into a pure water stream by increasing its temperature and pressure, resulting in both liquid and gaseous properties that can be used to recover valuable solids without any liquid discharge.


The team will conduct a technical and economic feasibility analysis to identify how to improve the SWEETR technology while minimizing energy use and keeping costs down. Then they will perform lab experiments to identify the best additive parameters and ideal operating conditions for the SWEETR process. They will design and build a test system to demonstrate scalability, long-term operation, and overall reliability. Finally, the team will conduct a market analysis and devise a plan to achieve licensing and commercialization.


The SWEETR technology will cost-effectively treat salt water and other hypersaline solutions without causing corrosion or equipment fouling. This project may further allow recovery of value-added salts like lithium, potassium, and sodium that are present in the hypersaline solutions. The recovery of high-value salts, in addition to pure water, contributes to the cost-effectiveness of the desalination process, even at smaller scales.